Many hikers and survivalists carry aluminum foil in their backpacks. They’ve learned how useful this item can become in the wilderness. Over the years, I’ve discovered ways you can use aluminum foil while exploring the great outdoors and the versatility of this item never ceases to amaze me.
In every household you can find a roll or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil. It is one of the items that have many uses in an emergency situation. Regardless if you are in the wilderness or in the city, aluminum foil is a versatile item to have and its uses are limited only by your imagination.
Here are my top wilderness uses for aluminum foil:
- Makes cooking cleanup easier when time is of the essence – If you line your Dutch oven or cast iron with foil, it will keep sticky food residue to a minimum. This is especially useful in the evening when you don’t have the time or resources (water may be scarce) to clean the cooking pots. If you use aluminum foil you will avoid letting your dirty pots sit overnight and attract unwanted guests.
- Improvise a frying pan. You can improvise a fork from a long branch and use a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around it to fry the goodies you manage to forage or hunt.
- Improvise all sorts of cooking accessories. You can make a serving platter or a cup from aluminum foil and pretty much anything you can think off depending on your cooking needs.
- You can make a solar oven using your aluminum foil. If you have a cardboard box available you can easily improvise a solar oven to cook your food. Even if you do not have the luxury of using a cardboard box in the wild, you can still improvise a cage from sticks and line it up with aluminum foil to create a solar oven.
- As you will see in this video, improvising a pot from aluminum foil can be done by anyone. You could use the pot to boil water, warm your food and pretty much anything you can think of.
- While learning to make the right type of fire suited for a specific survival situation is a valuable skill, you can also use aluminum foil to keep your fire going. You can block the wind and protect the flames by making an aluminum wall using a few branches.
Related article: Various types of fire you can make in the wild
- Use it to collect rainwater. You can improvise a funnel to divert rainwater into your container or you can improvise a large pot and place it in a spot with abundant rainfall.
- Improve your outdoor lighting needs. All you need to do is add a piece of aluminum foil to one side of your lantern and you can focus the light in the direction you need.
- Use it for rescue signaling purposes. You can use it just as a signaling mirror and the reflective surface of the foil can be used to signal a rescue plane or vehicle in the distance for help. You can also tie multiple strips of foil to a branch and make a signaling flag.
- Use it to mark the road to camp. Getting lost in the wild is easy, especially if your orientation skills are not sharpened. To make sure you always find your way to camp, you cut strings from of aluminum foil and tie them to branches to make sure you don’t get lost. This is especially useful if you have to travel at night and the since the foil will reflect light from your flashlight and even moonlight.
- You may be forced to cross a river and things will get wet faster than you would expect. If you have a waterproof bag, you are in luck, but if that’s not the case the foil you brought along can save the day. Items such as wooden matches, cellphones, socks and pretty much anything you want to keep dry can be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil.
- Use it to make drip rings. If you sleep in a survival hammock you can improvise drip rings to keep water runoff away from you sleeping area. This is a useful trick if you don’t want to wake up in a puddle.
- Aluminum foil can help you warm your sleeping bag. This is something I’ve learned while visiting the UK. Besides teaching us how to make a hot bed, the guide also taught us how to warm our sleeping bags using stones and aluminum foil. You will need to heat some stone in the campfire coals, wrap them in foil and place them by your feet. This will help you keep warm on cold nights, providing an extra level of comfort.
- If you sleep on the ground, you can use aluminum foil to keep your sleeping bag dry and warm. The foil will protect moisture from reaching your sleeping bag and will reflect the heat emanated by your body.
Recommended article: Survival hammock trips and tricks you should know
- Make a fishing lure from your foil. You can use a knife to create feathered edges for your fish hook. The shiny edges will flutter in the water and will convince fish such as bass to bite on your lure.
- Improvise a container to carry the sticky/mushy goodies you manage to forage. You can line your pocket with aluminum foil or you can improvise a container to safely store the things you manage to forage for. It will prevent berries and other moist items from making a mess in your backpack.
- Protect your berry shrubs. If you are forced to forage for food while being stranded in the wild, chances are you could find some berries. Seeing how there is a great competition for these wild berries, you will need to protect the bushes from birds and other critters. Tie strips of foil to the branches if you want to make sure there will still be berries available when you return the next day.
- You can make a food cache using aluminum foil to prevent unwanted guests from raiding your supplies. All you need to do is dig a hole, line the bottom with rocks, wrap your items in aluminum foil and put them in the hole. Before covering your supplies with dirt, make sure you mark the spot or acknowledge the available landmarks. This will save you from digging multiple times to find your supplies.
- Fire starting aid. Many survivalists use petroleum jelly firestaters but few of them know that they can improve the duration of the flame by placing the firestaters on a piece of aluminum foil. By doing so the jelly won’t melt into the ground below and you flame will last longer. This is a neat trick if you need to start a flame in cold or wet environments.
- Use it to make repairs or improvements. If your water bottle gets pierced or your water canteen gets cracked you can use the foil in conjunction with pine sap to seal the container. You can also use it to enhance the signal of devices with traditional antennas if you wrap a ball of foil around the end of the antenna. Even more, you can fix the lose springs from your devices and hold batteries in place by folding a small piece of foil and placing it between the battery and the lose spring.
Your survival bag doesn’t have to contain expensive gear to become useful and as you can see, even cheap items such as aluminum foil can prove useful during an emergency situation. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: In a survival situation, improvisation is the mother of necessity. The versatility of aluminum foil makes it an ideal candidate for your survival bag and you should really consider buying a roll or two for emergency situations.
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